El Paso

Duranguito residents confused by City Council's actions

Neighborhood again a possible site for arena

Duranguito residents disappointed

EL PASO, Texas - Emily Gardea is one of about 50 people who will have to move if the city of El Paso chooses to build the new downtown arena in her Duranguito neighborhood.

She was relieved to find out city council representatives had ruled out the location last month after protests from the community. 

But in a stunning reversal, city council put the Duranguito neighborhood back on the table during this week's meeting.

"It's pretty confusing," Gardea said.

Gardea has rented her home for 15 years. Most renters in the Union Plaza neighborhood we talks to, like Gardea, do not want to move.

On the flip side, some property owners like Guillermo Garcia, who spoke at this week's city council meeting, are anxious to sell.

Garcia claims most of the people holding signs protesting the arena being built in the Duranguito neighbhood don't even live there.

The city's convention center is also being considered as an arena site. But representatives say they will need a lot more informatin before making a final decision.

City representative Emma Acosta posed questions she hopes the study will answer.

"We still don't know if the arena fits in the convention center site. How it's going to fit? We don't know if can be built up, whether it is structurally sound. That we can do that without disrupting the convention center?  What is the cost to that?," Acosta said.

Money is also on Gardea's mind. She said she pays $350 a month for the home she rents with a yard big enough for her two dogs. She knows it's a good price, but it still takes up too big a chunk of her social security check. All she can do now is wait, knowing her landlord has already made up his mind.

"He wants to sell. He as been trying to sell for over three years," Gardea said.

El Paso City Council Tuesday approved a feasibility study that will look at areas within a 1,000-foot radius from any point of the Downtown Convention Center, including the Duranguito neighborhood, as possible sites for the new downtown arena.

City Council's insistence on building the new arena in such close proximity to the Convention Center is because of Texas House Bill 1964. It is a State incentive that allows the City to collect a state property tax for a 10-year period, if the arena is built within 1,000 feet of the Convention Center.

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